The Great Elite Back-Down Issue

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007 2:33 pm by Neal

Remember the amnesty for illegal aliens debacle way back in June? Remember how perplexing it all was that our “elite” leaders were incapable of understanding their constituents outrage — all those little people who flooded the phones, fax machines, and e-mail accounts of the Senators who were briefly suckered into supporting the McCain-Kennedy-Bush amnesty? Remember how these Senators folded like a napkin when we bopped them on the head? What were our “elite leaders” thinking? How could they be so out-of-touch?

Well, John Derbyshire — writing at The Corner — has an interesting explanation: illegal immigration is The Great Elite Back-Down Issue.

New York Governor Spitzer’s back-down on drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants just cements illegal immigration as the Great Elite Back-Down Issue.

It was noticed years ago that the gap between elite opinion and public opinion on immigration issues is extraordinarily wide, as these gaps go. Some of this is naked self-interest: wealthy business types liking cheap, docile labor forces, rich folk of all stripes appreciating cheap & meek domestic servants. Some part arises from the guilty conscience that rich people always have, even in the U.S.A., known that all wealth and success is to some degree a product of dumb luck. From this you get patronizing noblesse oblige attitudes directed most particularly at those who are obviously poor. (The lower-middle classes don’t seem to get much noblesse oblige directed their way.) Some comes from the “diversity” indoctrination that most elite types got while passing through their elite colleges and law schools. A big part arises from the simple and inescapable fact that elites don’t share the anxieties of ordinary folk. They don’t worry, as the rest of us do, about property values, losing a job, or affording health care. And then some is just that elites are better traveled and more “world-conscious” than the rest of us, and correspondingly, they are less attached to their own nation and its citizenship.

Whatever the reason, the gap is huge, and elite types keep falling headlong into it. It’s hard not to smile at the spectacle. On this topic, our ruling classes are just simply clueless. It’s a huge, major case of not getting it.

We saw this most wonderfully—I cherish the memory— last year with those big ¡Sí se puede! marches. The first round of demonstrations was addressed by a raft of big Democrat panjandrums—Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, etc. The second round, a few weeks later, was addressed by… nobody. The Kennedys and Clintons all had pressing engagements elsewhere, it turned out. I was smiling about this for weeks. Elite Back-Down One.

Same thing with the various congressional attempts at “comprehensive immigration reform.” Our Senators stir themselves from their oak-paneled offices and antique-leather armchairs to cook up a new scheme to amnesty all those polite, nice folk who are doing their yard work for them. Seems like a great idea! Then suddenly they can’t hear themselves talk for the roar of phone calls and faxes coming in from their constituents. Elite Back-Down Two. It’s all totally baffling to them. Who are these people making such a fuss about a perfectly reasonable, humane proposal?

It’s us, buddy, the great unwashed. This is still a democracy we have here. Try to keep that in mind, eh?

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